Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Affordable family fun found in SEQ

A day of fun with your family is priceless, but that’s only if you look at it in terms of value and not cost.

The price tag on some typical Queensland family outings, like a trip to a theme park on the coast, seems to keep rising.

At the end of July, Warner Brothers theme parks Seaworld and Movieworld announced they were banning the packed lunch. A spokesperson from Warner Brothers said the ‘outside food’ ban was standard in theme parks around the world.

But it’s still hitting families where it hurts most in these tough times; the hip pocket.

On average, lunch for a family of four costs $70 at a theme park – that isn’t exactly small change.

So will consumers fall into line and cough up the extra money or will they look for more affordable family activities?

According to consumer behaviour expert Dr Edwina Luck, rising prices at theme parks are changing the way budget conscious parents spend and organise family activities.

“A day out for a couple and two kids to a theme park like Dreamworld or Movie World can easily cost hundreds of dollars, so families are cutting out trips to theme parks and saving the money for a holiday at Christmas instead,: she said.

Dr Luck said even in these harder economic times, families wouldn’t eliminate outings and stay home every weekend.

“Even if money is tight, there’s only so many movie nights at home you can have before everyone gets bored. Parents want to take the kids out,” she said.

She said parents are weighing up their options and getting the kids involved in deciding what they want to do.

“Families haven’t stopped spending but they’re making different decisions. They’re saying to the kids, for example, ‘Do you want to go to Dreamworld or the Ekka? You can choose but we won’t do both’.”

According to Dr Luck, some families are spending the same amount they would on a day at a theme park but are spending it on a number of activities to stretch the money further.

“People are looking for different ways to spend a nice day with the family. You could go to a theme park and spend $500 or you could go to the gallery one weekend, the next go to Southbank and cruise the markets and so on. In the end you could spend about the same dollar amount but you’re getting more bang for your buck.”

Mother of two Jenni Kantor said most families she knows are being more careful with their spending and she tries to find more affordable ways for her family to have fun together now that prices are getting higher.

“Things like going to theme parks are just too expensive at the moment so we’re always looking for cheaper ways to go out as a family,” she said.

So what are some budget and family friendly activities available in South East Queensland? Here are 1o ways families can have a good time on the weekend, without buyer’s remorse.

1. For families who like to get active and rug up in their winter woolies, ice skating is an affordable and fun way to spend an afternoon. A family pass for two adults and two kids at the Iceworld Boondall costs $50 including skate hire, and additional children can skate for $10 each. Public skating sessions are from 1pm til 3:30 pm on Saturdays and 11am til 3 pm on Sundays.

2. The Queensland Museum Science Centre offers experiments and activities that appeal to kids (and parents) day of all ages. The centre is open from 9:30am til 5pm every day and entry costs $38 for a family of four.

3. A relaxing way to spend a day is to stroll around Southbank Lifestyle Market. Visitors can browse a range of homemade goods, try delicious food and enjoy live music and entertainment. Open from 10am til 5pm Saturday and 9am til 5pm Sunday, it costs nothing to go and families can spend as much or as little as they like.

4. For families who love animals and creepy crawlies, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a great day out. A day pass costs $65 for 2 adults and up to 3 kids and you can cuddle a koala or hold a snake if you’re feeling brave. The park is open from 8:30am til 5pm daily.

5. A barbeque at New Farm Park is a nice way to enjoy the outdoors. The wides open spaces are ideal for throwing a ball around, there’s a playground in the trees and it’s all free; you just need to bring your own sausages, bread rolls and sauce.

6. For families who like a challenge there’s the Bellingham Maze on the Sunshine Coast. Once you’ve conquered the maze, you can head up to the timber deck and watch as other adventurers muddle their way through. There’s also a rainforest walk to enjoy and the owners suggest bringing your own picnic lunch. The maze is open from from 9am til 5pm daily and entry costs $44 for a family of four.

7. For a healthy, sweet treat Strawberry Fields Farm on the Sunshine Coast is the place to go. Visitors can pick their own strawberries straight from the patch and there’s a cafe and playground for the kids. Strawberry season is from June to November, and ‘pick your own’ hours are from 8am til 4:30pm daily. Entry is free and you just pay for what you pick.

8. For some good old-fashioned fun you can’t go past board games. Families can borrow and play a range of new and old games at ‘The Parlour’ in the Queensland State Library. Entry is free and youcan play games including Jenga and Scrabble between 10am and 4pm any day of the week.

9. For a tasty learning experience families can visit The Ginger Factory, 90 minutes north of Brisbane. Entry is free and visitors can ride the ginger train, watch bee keeping demonstrations, enjoy the gardens and try some of the 65 flavours of ice cream made on site. And, of course, you can always visit the giftshop for some gingerbread men. The factory is open from 9am til 5pm daily.

10. Bowling offers the family a chance to get competitive and have some fun. At AMF a family can play 2 games, including shoe hire, for $78. Or if you take the kids bowling after school on a Friday between 3pm and 5pm they can play for just $8 per game and receive 3 arcade game tokens. They just have to be wearing their school uniform.

By doing a little research and using some creativity it’s easy to come up with affordable ways to have a good time as a family. And most parents would agree that when everyone has fun together, it’s worth every cent.